Running will save us from a lot of things, but not running will not kill us.

With uncertainty about health, in a non-morbid, running-related sense, comes solitude, depression, free time, and a whole lot of positivity. That is, if you let the positivity slide through the pores of uncertainty, which are usually tighter than a drum. Friends, we must trust ourselves, we know it’s what we have to do when we think we may have a sidelining injury: relax. We must try to stay positive. Do something else with our lives than worry. God forbid, clean our rooms! Write a poem. Send a postcard. Bake cookies. Stop evaluating every second that passes like it’s another second to death. Running will save us from a lot of things, but not running will not kill us.

As I wait to know whether I can go full steam ahead with training for Western States 100, I’m trying to practice what I preach. Unlike when I was in college, now, I have perspective to know that my happiness cannot rely on whether I get eight miles in every day. No, no, no, no, no. That’s the ultimate recipe for disaster. My happiness relies on my relationships, my passions, which are more than just running, and my ability to realize that nothing is the end of the world. Maybe except for climate change. We are small fish in a practically infinite ocean. There’s always something way worse than our uncertainties. Not to diminish their importance, but, actually to diminish their importance.

We decide how big and negative our problems or bad luck are; it’s all relative. Thus, I vow that I will loosen my uncertainty pores and let positivity oooooooooze through. I hope that when uncertainty, or certain calamity strikes you, you can do the same.

 

 

Quote of the week: “Be an Activist, But Only Part-Time”

Some words for your mind to munch on.

This Edward Abbey quote was the foundation for my talk in Mammoth Lakes last week. I split it into two parts: 1) When you feel paralyzed that what you’re doing is just a tiny drop in a giant ocean, remember that you’re not the only environmentalist out there. Even if you have just a drop, you should still contribute that drop to the world, to saving our public lands, to signing that Nature Conservancy Public Lands pledge. Be a part-time martyr for your mission. But don’t burn yourself out, because you have to walk the talk, first and foremost. See 2.

2) Do you justify reasons for not pursuing your passion?  “I’m just way too busy.” “No way can I fit in my run today.” “I have to deposit a check!” “My job is taking precedence now.” “I’ll get back to skiing another season.” Well, as Abbey says: this is ridiculous. You must pursue your  passion, get outside, forget the superfluous crap of modern society and get back to the basics. If you love to run, run as often as possible. Ski? Get on the slopes! Read? GET A BOOK! We can only be part-time crusaders, but we can be full-time passionate about our passions. Stay hungry, people.

Be an Activist, But Only Part-Time

“Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am—a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.” 

—Edward Abbey (American author and essayist, known for his opinions on environmental advocacy and criticism of public land policies) B&WTenpeaks.jpg

Mark your calendars: Shambhala Mountain Retreat June 9-11

Like to trail run? And/or meditate? Join me at the Shambhala Mountain Center for a three-day running and meditation retreat June 9-11. Just outside, Boulder, we’ll run on gorgeous trails and have meditation instruction from well-practiced experts. Get ready to chill out and find your zen! Spots are already filling, so register sooner rather than later.

Highlights of the weekend will include self-reflection over why you are good enough and why focusing on failure and stress isn’t productive. Instead, let’s mediate inwardly and focus on why we are thriving and all of the people, relationships, passions, and things we’re grateful for. And of course, let’s run!

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https://www.shambhalamountain.org/program/rwl617-running-legends-running-meditation-yoga-retreat/?form=1

What’s the best running advice I’ve received (Extended Version)

A few weeks ago, former Trail Runner Magazine editor, and now freelance writer, Paul Cuno-Booth, asked about the best running advice I’ve ever received. This inconsequential inquiry made me think long and hard, and has since piqued my spark to practice what I’ve been preached. He included a snippet of my thoughts in this article featuring numerous elite trail runners (all of whom I revere!).

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Here’s an extension of my thoughts on the best running advice I’ve ever received.

The best advice I’ve received is to ‘take it easy.’ And 100 variations of the platitude. Since I don’t struggle with motivation to train or to compete, my biggest demons are overtraining and overuse injuries. Taking it easy means a lot of things: prioritizing rest days, getting ample sleep, refueling adequately, resting at the smallest sign of injury, and the most important of all: don’t take yourself too seriously. This last piece was more curated from misplaced, unsolicited advice. For example, after I won Leadville, hordes of people miraculously became experts, giving advice that doesn’t have any place in a three-minute superficial conversation without proper context. Things like: don’t race more than three times per year. Don’t run with people slower than you. Run more mountains. Run more trail. Run more road. Take two tablespoons of coconut oil before every meal. Eat more meat. Don’t eat any meat. All of this advice tells me, “Clare, you cannot turn into these crazy people. You shouldn’t inflict your beliefs into every poor soul you meet, especially when you don’t have a real conversation contextualizing the advice.” In summary, the best advice I’ve ever received is: chill the F out and have fun. I shouldn’t be running if it becomes a chore. And I should run less in general. 

The context and timing of advice is fascinating. Before wining Leadville, most people didn’t offer as much advice because I was marked as a former college runner. Somehow the latter is more knowledgable than a 24 year old winning a 100 mile race, never mind that person is also a former college runner. Additionally, it’s paradoxical how winning something solicits more advice than getting 2nd or top 10. Had I gotten 2nd in Leadville, I likely wouldn’t even have been interviewed by Cuno-Booth for his article. The veneer of an impressionable runner with a smidgen of promise somehow acts as an inviting basin to advice givers. If I lose that veneer, and gain an air of ‘experienced trail runner,’ maybe the advice will wane. Regardless, I’m always open to advice, good or bad. Interestingly, David Roche also interviewed me for Trail Runner Magazine right after Leadville, subtly providing very pointed and appropriate ‘take it easy’ advice. He was never pedantic and always backed his advice with reasons. It stuck with me throughout the next four months and I ended up asking him for more training advice for the remainder of 2016. He’s now my coach. 

At the end of the day, I know I’d be nothing without advice, espeically the unsolicited type. Cuno-Booth’s inquiry reminded me of how much I respect ‘taking it easy.’ I’m trying to take Coach Roche’s instruction more seriously, i.e. maybe that extra 5am ski tour might not be the best thing in the long run.

Please, friends, keep the advice coming!